Midnight feasting on Heidegger

October 21, 2005

Name: Wayne Martin

Age: 41

Job: Reader in philosophy, Essex University.

Salary: More than I ever expected to make doing philosophy, but I had pretty low expectations.

Background: BA, Clare College, Cambridge; PhD, University of California, Berkeley; 12 years on the faculty of California, San Diego.

Working hours and conditions: The truth is that I like to work all the time. Last night, I snuck out of bed at 2am because I wanted to finish reading one of Heidegger's essays on Kant.

How many students do you teach? Forty undergraduates, one PhD student and a trio of doctoral students who work with me in my capacity as general editor of Inquiry .

Your biggest challenge this year: Making the move from San Diego to Essex; it will be months before I can see the floor of my office.

How did you solve it? Support from my head of department and from the chief administrative officer. Colleagues offered us the use of their homes when our real estate deal was on the rocks. Endless phone calls in the middle of the Californian night to sort out the myriad details of starting a new life in a new country.

What has been your worst moment in university life? Being one of three junior faculty members in a department denying tenure to the other two.

What is your office like? I have two adjacent offices. The larger one is for the journal, and is pretty well organised but rather overcrowded. My own office bears more than a passing resemblance to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

What university facilities do you use? Laundry facilities in halls of residence (our house is still not properly plumbed); inter-library loans; screamin' fast internet connection.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Often. Many of us live near one another in the village down the road from the university.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally? Brilliant but obnoxious colleagues (not here, I am happy to report). I dealt with them by doing my best to refute the doctrines for which they were most famous.

What is the best excuse for bad behaviour you have heard? I had one student hire a lawyer when I called her to account for a paper clearly taken from a website. Her mother told me that my case against her daughter would jeopardise her political career.

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